In a recent Twitter exchange the subject of Banacek came up.
For those too young to remember, Banacek was an NBC series starring George Peppard as a suave Polish investigator assigned to uncover the mystery of objects and people that went missing under seemingly impossible circumstances. It struck me that you could not pitch a character like Banacek today; He was a womanizer (the first episode features the ever-yummy Anitra Ford serving him champagne while he watches TV), smoked cigars, and his job was to help insurance companies avoid paying claims. You might pitch it as a period piece, a la Mad Men, as a window to a less-enlightened time, but never as a modern show, at least not without significant modifications. It got me thinking about what SF/F TV characters would fail as new creations today.
To be clear, I do not mean reboots or reimaginings. I mean characters existing as they did when they were originally portrayed on TV, with their personality traits and behaviors intact, and pitching them in today’s social and political climate. We’ve come quite a distance from couples sleeping in separate beds, but there are things considered taboo today that were rampant on TV past.
Following the last season of Doctor Who Series 6 (aired in the sates by BBC America), Stephen Moffat and the BBC announced that the new/next/2012 season would not air until the Fall. This didn’t sit well with a lot of fans of the show, including me. It felt like a really long break to take, which meant that when the show came back, it would need to rebuild the momentum from the previous seasons, and deliver some truly strong episodes to propel it forward into the 50th anniversary year.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: When a nuclear submarine is ordered to fire on Pakistan, the crew requests confirmation, only to be attacked by another submarine. On the run, the crew takes refuge from their attackers, intending to lay low and figure out what happened before they can return home.
MY REVIEW: PROS: A smart, fast-paced show with plenty of potential. CONS: A tight story and lower ratings to start mean this could be a limited run.
ABC’s new show Last Resort isn’t exactly science fiction, but it feels like it could be. Taking place aboard the fictional USS Colorado, the show begins with a short introduction to the crew before quickly flipping into high gear: orders come from a back-channel to launch nuclear warheads at Pakistan. Captain Marcus Chalpin (portrayed by a fantastic Andre Braugher) requests confirmation, only to be relieved of command. His second in command, Lt. Commander Sam Kendal (Scott Speedman) likewise questions the command, and their submarine comes under attack from another sub, the USS Illinois. Effecting repairs, they commandeer a NATO facility and launch a nuke over Washington DC when they find that they’ve been discovered, and let the US know that they’ve got 17 more if they’re troubled further. Continue reading →
“Well, a guy who dresses up like a bat clearly has issues.” — Bruce Wayne, Batman Begins.
“Time for you to work through some of your issues, Mr. Reese” — Harold Finch, Person of Interest.
Jonathan Nolan’s Watchmen: Person of Interest, Batman, and Second Chances
Batman fans, take note — Person of Interest, a ratings hit when it debuted last year, returns for a second season in its original Thursday 9 pm/8 central timeslot this fall on September 27th. Creator Jonathan Nolan, the man who helped bring the Dark Knight back to the big screen, borrows from Batman for a disguised variation on the famous comic-book legend. Brush up on season one available on Blu-ray and DVD now, or plunge in Thursday before Executive Producer J. J. Abrams’ trademark penchant for elaborate mythology kicks in.
In what perhaps best sums up the two protagonists in the CBS series Person of Interest, a comic-book-obsessed boy (“Astro” from The X Factor) tells ex-CIA operative Reese, “You are a ronin … a samurai with no master.” Indeed Reese is, as is the new boss Finch who recently took him under his wing, and while the desaturated hues of Person of Interest bear zero resemblance to a colorful comic-book palette, this grittily realistic crime series has much in common with the recent Dark Knight Trilogy (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises). What is Batman, after all, but a masterless warrior trained in the fighting arts of the Far East?
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A mysterious event knocks out the planet’s technology: no more cars, electricity or conventional society. Fifteen years after the blackout, a small band of adventurers venture out of their home community after a death at the hands of the local militia.
MY REVIEW: PROS: A show with plenty of potential and room for growth. CONS: Bland characters leave this pilot with room for improvement.
NBC’s latest speculative fiction outing aired last night, Eric Kripke’s Revolution, produced by J.J. Abrams, and with a ridiculous sounding plot: a global catastrophe knocks out the world’s technology – mostly. Cars shut down, the lights go out, and planes fall out of the sky. Fifteen years later, the society and government of 2012 has collapsed, with much of the population moving out of the cities and into rural America, where regional warlords have taken over. When militia soldiers kill Ben Matheson and capture his son, Danny, his daughter Charlie Matheson travels to the ruins of Chicago along with Ben’s girlfriend Maggie and friend Aaron, to find her uncle, who might know the key to the blackout.
If, like me, you are a fan of TNT’s new SciFi drama Falling Skies, you are probably up to date on Season 2, which debuted a few weeks back. If not, what the heck are you waiting for? You have mechs! Aliens! What more could you want?
This Sunday, TNT is offering up a marathon of Season 2, which has been pretty intense.
I have really embraced Netflix and streaming video. Enough so that I made a post about 5 genre shows now streaming from the service just a couple days ago. Looking through the available content, though, I realized there were a lot more shows deserving of a mention. So, here’s a list of five more shows! (presented in no particular order) Continue reading →
I don’t know about you, but I have really embraced Netflix and streaming video. They’ve made an effort to make content available using your computer, television, TiVo, game consoles, even phones1! You name it, and if you are in the right area2, you can access loads of streaming content via Netflix.
Looking through the available content recently, I was impressed with the offering and though I’d mention just five that might interest you. (presented in no particular order) Continue reading →